I usually save this website for recipe features and Innkeeping conversations – but every so often something happens in my personal life that I feel the desire to share with all of you. This is one of those times…
In early January this year, I woke up to see the first significant snowfall of the season. I headed downstairs and made coffee. My mission of the day was to dismantle, box, and store Christmas away for another year.
I made several piles of garland, lights and ornaments. Pine needles fell to the rug a thousand at a time. It didn’t take long before I realized the living room was destroyed, and that my husband Eric had disappeared upstairs.
Assuming he was trying to evade my little project, I went upstairs to see what he was doing. Sadly, I found him in bed suffering from serious abdominal pain. An unexpected rush-visit to the local emergency room was about to take over our day.
We entered, registered, and waited for the doctor. We waited some more. We waited for CAT Scan results. We waited some more. Seven hours later, the decision was made – emergency surgery.
The nurses handed me his clothes, wallet, and wedding ring. I took all of his things and packed them nervously into my bag. I stopped when I got to the wedding ring (that he hadn’t removed for over eleven years) and worried it might get lost if I put it in the large bag. I put the ring on my finger for safekeeping – and also as a gesture of love that made me feel close to him during this terrible ordeal.
The surgeon allowed me to accompany them onto the elevator as they made their way towards the operating room on the bottom floor of the hospital. My husband looked at me through his pain-medicated-haze and said, “Charlene, I’m scared.”
I fought incredibly hard not to cry, but lost the battle. People were handing me tissues. I felt weak and helpless. I hid behind the bed my husband was in because I didn’t want him to see me cry. They eventually took him away and I was left standing there alone, and scared myself.
Back on the elevator. It was now 7:30pm. Hunger pangs reminded me that I hadn’t eaten all day. I looked under my long winter coat and saw the pajamas I had worn to bed the night before. The rush out of the house that morning was so quick and urgent, I hadn’t even thought to get properly dressed. I walked down the long quiet hallway and found a ladies room in an effort to pull myself together. Instead, I locked the door and sat there on the floor because I couldn’t stop crying. I wonder, how many have done this is a hospital bathroom before?
Eventually, I pulled myself together and went to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. The doctor said he’d be in surgery 3 or 4 hours. I found a seat and glanced over the newspaper. As I turned to the next page, I looked at my hand and it registered that my husband’s wedding ring was gone. Lost in a giant hospital I had walked through multiple times that day.
My heart pounding, I ran to the ER to ask if anyone had turned it in. A volunteer, Stephanie, helped me search. She even emptied an entire bin of linens. Nothing. The night housekeepers took me back downstairs. Nothing. I went to the ladies room I had been in. Nothing. I went back to the cafeteria. Nothing. Another wonderful employee, Shelley Parsons, participated in my search. Still, we found nothing.
All the memories that wedding ring held flashed through my mind. Exchanging vows as we eloped on a windswept beach on Sanibel Island, Florida. The way the ring sparkled on the outstretched hand of our wedding officiator, Patricia Slater (Weddings by the Sea), on that magical afternoon at sunset. This ring had been present at all the places we lived, the areas we traveled, and during all the memories we shared up until that moment when I discovered it was gone.
My husband came out of surgery that night, weakened but okay. I was able to see him around midnight. With all he had endured, I didn’t have the heart to tell him the wedding ring was lost.
He spent the next 5 days in the hospital. I stayed with him each night and would leave each morning at 7a.m. to go home for a few hours. My daily ritual was to stop at the Lost and Found office to see if anyone turned the ring in. Nothing. I joked with the girls at the reception desk about praying to St. Anthony – he’d make sure this ring was found!
Three weeks after arriving home, Eric was still weak. Somewhere along the line, he remembered to ask me what had happened to his wallet and wedding ring while he was in the hospital…
I was forced to tearfully confess. He was hurt to hear of his lost wedding ring, but understood the chaos of that day. We agreed to go purchase a new ring once he had fully recovered.
Five weeks passed. Visiting nurses arrived at our house on a regular schedule to help us with his recovery. I shared the story with all of them — still trying to get the word out on the lost ring.
Eventually, I had to admit defeat. The ring was gone forever and a new one would soon take its place.
As soon as I gave up any hope of ever seeing the wedding ring again — my phone rang. It was Shelley Parsons from York Hospital calling to tell me that, miraculously, six weeks later, the ring had actually been turned in. I couldn’t believe it!
Apparently, a couple that went into the same ER room just after us, found the ring. The woman who found it mentioned she had put it in her pocket and was going to bring it to the Lost and Found at the hospital shortly thereafter. Her husband had also gone into emergency surgery and, with all the commotion, she completely forgot about the ring in her pocket. She happened to come across it long after they had returned home and came back to turn it in.
With a major blizzard heading into Maine this last weekend, I told Shelly to hold onto the wedding ring and I would be there on Tuesday to pick it up.
She said, “Charlene, I’m so excited for you! And how appropriate that you will be picking it up on Valentine’s Day!
Today is Valentine’s Day and I went to pick up the ring at York Hospital. I parked the car and went straight for the front office.
As I entered the ER, I immediately saw Stephanie, who (along with several other York Hospital employees) had helped me diligently search for the ring when it first went missing. She greeted me with a huge smile, as she did every time I saw her while my husband was there.
I quickly informed Stephanie that Shelly had called me and told me they found my husband’s ring. She was excited, too, and gave me a hug.
I continued to the front office and told the girl behind the desk why I was there. She swung her chair around and grabbed the locked safe from the cabinet behind her. I waited with anticipation as she dug through the miscellaneous items other hospital guests had left behind.
She then picked up a little bag and said, “here you go, this is the ring bag.”
I took the bag and saw three rings, none of which belonged to me. I gave the bag back to her and said, “my husband’s ring isn’t in here.” She said, “well, we must not have it.”
I insisted she did have it – and I was certain, because Shelly had texted me a photo of it when it was turned in. The girl at the front desk then offered me the safe to look through myself. I dug down – deep, wide-eyed and determined. Could this be? Is it lost again?
Then it appeared – a small, clear, zip-lock bag with the words: Charlene Taubert – “Happy Valentine’s Day!” written in black permanent marker. Inside, there was a tiny, silver box beautifully wrapped in pink paper with a spring-green colored ribbon. Shelly had taken it upon herself to make certain that the ring was returned to us with the pomp and fanfare of an exciting Valentine’s Day gift!
Sometimes the people we know least, take it upon themselves to create the most inspiring scenarios of kindness in our lives. Sometimes what we think is lost forever is found again. Sometimes it happens after we’ve given up hope, when it seems least likely and, still, we’re able to realize that the placement of every single event occurring in our lives is absolutely perfect. The good. The bad. They all make us grow. Sometimes we’re frustrated or impatient — but life always unfolds in meaningful ways and with elegant timing.
‘By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.’ — Lao Tzu
Special thanks to all of the wonderful, caring staff at York Hospital – and to the couple who found and returned our wedding ring.